Thursday, June 16, 2005

Beginning of the Crusades

From now on, the majority of the posting will be of the Crusades. Probably one of the most influential series of events in all of history. It involves a lot of things. The people, places, and actions together make up a truly epic period. It really did affect all of Europe, the Islamic world, the Byzantine Empire, and more. The events it set off were magnified and now affect nearly everything. Perhaps it is interesting to note that the crusaders' cross worn by the first of the soldier-pilgrims was the same cross on the sails of the ships of Columbus.

For other things that I will post on: Look at Mesoptamian culture, centering on their laws, rise of the cities and urbanisation, and how grew and faded, and grew again in power.
Continuation of linguistic studies, focusing on how languages develop, and patterns in this development.
The Italian republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa. They were the real European political powers until crushed by the Ottomans and the Spaniards from two different sides.
Great sieges of major cities in history, some are pretty interesting.

Arab political situation at time of First Crusade: by this time, the unity of the Muslims had been fractured. Different sects, dynasties, and cultures had broken up the old unity. In the North Muslim Anatolia was controlled by the Rum Seljuks, an offshoot of the old Seljuk Empire, it was ruled by Kilij Arslan I. To the south Aleppo was under Radwan, and Damascus under Duqaq. To the East Kerbogha was atabeg of Mosul, in present-day Iraq. Further to the south were the Fatimids in Egypt, they had just recently recaptured Jerusalem from the Turks. There was no solid friendship at all among these countries. Each of the indiviudal rulers were more interested in expanding his own territory.

Chronicle: In early 1095 Emperor Alexius I of the Byzantine Empire sent a request to Pope Urban II of Rome to help drive off the Turks. In November of 1095, Urban gathered the religious leaders, lords, and nobility of all France together in the Council of Clermont. Here he gave the speech that would change the course of history. Urban told the people that instead of the constant infighting of the Christians, they should unite and war against their common enemy, the non-Christians. The Holy Land was a rich place where people could rise from the bleakness of Europe and enjoy prosperity. All who took part would be able to get cleansed of their sins. At the end of the speech, cries of "God wills it" rang throughout the council.

The pope himself and the clergy under him spread the call to arms throughout Europe. An unofficial response was begun with the People's Crusade. Most of the 100,000 partakers were not real soldiers, just peasants who were captivated by the Pope's message. There even were women and children. It's first battles were with Christians in Europe. After fighting its way to Constantinople, Emperor Alexius took them over the Strait of Bosporus, into Anatolia. There they were eventually cut to pieces by the Turks.

The First Crusade set off in August, after a long and treacherous march it finally reached the Holy Land. The story of that will be in the next Crusade post.

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